Sinus infections have been around for as long as man has walked on earth. A common condition, sinus infections can be both irritating and painful. The good news is that sinus infections can be easily cured with home remedies or over-the-counter medicine. When faced with a sinus infection, most people would love to have a magic wand to cure it in a matter of minutes. Sadly, that is not possible, but there are practical ways to treat runny nose, sinus headaches and similar ailments, and those include home remedies for sinus infection.
What Is a Sinus Infection?
In medical terms, a sinus infection is an “inflammation and blockage of the sinuses.” What happens during a sinus infection is that the patient’s nasal passages are filled with a fluid that is rich with germs. Those germs cause the infections, and the symptoms include facial pain, discharge, nasal stuffiness, cough, and much more. Some of the causes of sinus infection include nasal polyps, allergic rhinitis, deviated septum, and the common cold.
Difference Between a Cold and Sinus Infection
Before you jump into home remedies for sinus infections, make sure you have a sinus infection, and not a cold. The best way to determine whether you have a sinus infection or a cold is to know the symptoms of each. There are a few differences that are crucial for your treatment.
Colds, for starters, get better on their own, no matter if you treat them or not in 5 to 10 days. The symptoms for cold include cough, headache, sore throat, stuffy nose, mucus buildup, swollen sinuses, sneezing, fatigue, and low-grade fever.
A sinus infection, on the other hand, is a variety of a cold. And while colds do not cause sinus infections, they provide the breeding ground for infections. When you are sick, your immune system is down, and every time you touch your nose, you risk bringing more bacteria to the sinuses.
As for the symptoms of sinus infection, they include: stuffy nose, bad breath, sinus pressure behind the eyes and cheeks, worsening headache as compared to a cold, thick yellow or green mucus draining, and decreased sense of smell. The main difference between colds and sinus infections is that the mucus discharge causes pain in sinus infections.
How Home Remedies for Sinus Infection Work
As mentioned, a sinus infection is nasal blockage, and, therefore, most of the home remedies target the blockage and inflammation. The goal with home and natural remedies is to clear the passageway of the mucus and eliminate infection.
Several cleanses can be used for achieving these results, and we will take a look at some of the most effective. And the best part is, most of the home remedies for sinus infection also boost your immune system, helping you maintain an effective, active and healthy immune system.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Known popularly as a “do-it-all-home-remedy,” apple cider vinegar can be used in two ways for sinus infection. The first and standard way is to include apple cider vinegar in your daily diet, as the vinegar delivers a number of healthy nutrients and vitamins that support a healthy immune system. However, once a sinus infection has developed, apple cider vinegar has another usage.
How to do it:
Dilute a few drops of apple cider vinegar into water, and then use it as a rinse to thin the mucus. A few days are more than enough to eliminate the sinus infection. If you like, you can prepare a bigger dose and store it to use a few times daily for few days.
2. Saline Rinse
One of the most commonly used and most effective home remedies for sinus infection is a saline rinse. You need only two ingredients:
- sea salt
How to do it:
Mix the two ingredients together, in a ratio that favors water. Use the solution as a rinse, and you will instantly loosen the mucus that is blocking your nasal passage. A saline rinse also prevents the resurgence of the sinus infection.
When you suffer from a sinus infection, your body spends most of its fluids to battle the condition, and so you might feel dehydrated. A sinus infection is one of those conditions where the number one rule is to drink plenty of fluids.
Water will help dilute the mucus secretion in your nasal passages and promote healthy drainage. However, when you increase your fluid intake, make sure to avoid drinks and beverages containing caffeine and alcohol.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper naturally promotes circulation in your body, which is what you need to loosen the blockage in the nasal passages. With capsaicin as the main compound, cayenne encourages blood flow and boosts the function of your nasal passages. You can consume more cayenne pepper when you suffer from sinus infection, or you can go directly to the source of the problem.
If you think you can handle it, use a swab to soak up some cayenne pepper powder, and apply it into your nose. The treatment burns, but it will instantly open up your nasal passages.
Inhaling steam can help with a cold, cough, and sinus infection, as the steam will loosen up and open your nasal blockage. All you need is:
- a pot
- a few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint or menthol oil
How to do it:
Start by boiling the water in a pot. Once the water has boiled, sprinkle a few drops of essential oils into it. Wait 10 seconds, and then cover yourself with a towel and lean over the pot. Inhale the steam for five minutes. Alternatively, you can inhale steam while taking a shower.
Chinese herbalists have used magnolia flower to open nasal passages and as a remedy for clogged sinuses for years. Some other herbs that can be as effective include mint, angelica root, and chrysanthemum.
All of these herbs are used for the upper respiratory tract infections.
Chicken soup is something people associate with the common cold, but the soup can also help with congestion and sinus infection. And while one of the reasons chicken soup is so effective is due to the hot steam coming from the soup, the ingredients also help.
All of the ingredients in the chicken soup have high anti-inflammatory properties that help clear the nasal passages.
8. Cold and Hot Compresses
For this sinus infection home remedy, you will need to alternate between two compresses. Start by placing a hot compress across your sinuses. Let the compress stay there for three minutes, and then switch to a cold compress.
Repeat three times with each compress. You can do the treatment two times per day.
The flavor of the horseradish is the reason you want this remedy for sinus infection. All you need is one horseradish root.
How to do it:
Grate the radish into several small pieces. Hold a pinch of the pieces in your mouth, and let it stay there for a few minutes. The flavor will move up into your sinuses, dissolve the mucus, and open up your nasal passages. Once the flavor has evaporated, you can swallow the horseradish to eliminate mucus from your throat as well.
10. Grapefruit Seed Extract
Used as a powerful natural antibiotic, grapefruit seed extract can treat several bacteria and fungi.
If you have a sinus infection, the best way to use grapefruit seed extract is to purchase it as a nasal spray.
How to Prevent Sinus Infections
The best way to battle a sinus infection is to prevent it altogether. Preventing a sinus infection might not be as easy as it sounds, but if you stick to several precautionary measures and follow some simple rules, you can get there. The first step is to avoid colds. Avoiding colds is the best way to maintain healthy sinuses, and while it is easier said than done, it can be done. Physicians recommend several steps towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle that can prevent colds and sinus infections.
Start by considering some changes in your lifestyle, especially in the exercise area. People who exercise have a healthier immune system, and their body is better prepared to fight off the common cold.
The next step is to change your diet to a healthier way of eating. Most colds are actually caused by a virus, not bacteria. With healthy nutrients, your body will have enough vitamins and bacteria to fight off a cold even before it happens. Antibiotics do not work on colds because they are designed to treat bacteria, not viruses.
Adequate sleep is another way to prevent sinus infections and colds. Getting little to no sleep puts enormous pressure on your metabolism, immune system and body to perform. And your body cannot protect itself without proper sleep—the time needed to rejuvenate and refresh the system.
Next step on the list to change your lifestyle is to eliminate excess stress. Now, in this stressful and dynamic world we live, minimizing stress is easy to say, but hard to do. However, meditation, finding 30 minutes for yourself during the day, and exercise are ways to do it.
Once you change your lifestyle, the next step to preventing sinus infections is to protect your home. First off, you need to allergy-proof your home, since allergies are your worst enemy for sinus pain and infection. A few measures you can take are to install an air filter system, use bedding with allergen barriers, and keep pets away from the bedroom.
Check with the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery for additional tips for allergy-proofing your home. Last, but not least, remember to purchase a humidifier, a device that keeps the air moist. Just make sure to keep your humidifier clean at all times.